Ask UfYH

Ask UfYH: This Isn’t Actually Magic, You Know

Q: How can I keep my room clean? I clean it usually on Sundays, and by Tuesday it’s a mess.

A: We all know the UfYH system is awesome, but everyone’s clear that it’s not actually magic, right? Resetting your room to clean once a week is a great habit, but it’s not going to stay that way unless you immediately shut the door and never go in it again. Keeping a space clean is an ongoing process. If you use the space, it will get messy unless you work on keeping it from getting that way. That means, on an ongoing basis, you need to make sure trash is making it to the trash can, clothes are being put away or put in the hamper, and that when you use something, you put it away when you’re done. There’s no magic wand that’s going to make your room stay clean without you putting any effort into it. You actually have to do a little work. It’s not much, but if you’re only making an effort once a week, yeah, it’s going to get messy in between.

Q: I need to unpack 50 boxes. They contain everything from stuffed animals to high school books to clothes to paperwork. I didn’t pack them, so there isn’t a system and I don’t know what’s in which box. I will need to throw away a lot, but find this very hard. Do you have any suggestions for a useful approach?

A: Do two boxes a day. You’ll be done in less than a month, and you won’t be totally overwhelmed with this mass of boxes that you think you need to deal with all at once. Your rules are: you need to deal with every single thing in the box, decide whether to keep or toss/recycle/donate each item, and then follow through, meaning that if you keep an item, it must find an immediate and logical home. At the end of each box, you must break the box down and put it somewhere to be recycled or reused by someone else or at another time.

Deciding what to keep and what to get rid of is tough, but you need to be firm about it. Ask yourself:

  • Have I used this item recently?
  • Do I realistically think I will need to use this item in the future?
  • Do I have room to store this item?
  • Does this item have worth, value, or use to me beyond sentimental reasons?

When you think it through logically, it’ll be pretty clear what you need to keep and what you should get rid of. Good luck!


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3 replies on “Ask UfYH: This Isn’t Actually Magic, You Know”

Great advice on both counts. I also only “seriously” clean everything on Sundays, i.e. the bedroom, the bathroom, the kitchen (if it’s my week) and so forth. But, I’ve found that performing little maintenance tasks, if you’re able to do so, helps keep those spaces pretty clean during the week.

One of the nicest things about living alone is things stay where I put them (unlike, say, when my kids were little and/or living at home).

Unfortunately, that means my shoes stay where I kick them off, too, which is anywhere and everywhere. That’s always my first task on my Saturday morning cleaning, putting shoes away. I’m good about everything else (because I’m a bit obsessive about it) but shoes will be the death of me.

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